Sydney and Melbourne may both be in Australia, but they’re worlds apart – only similarity being the chill vibe evoked by pretty much everyone in the city, and of course, the absolutely delicious food (and coffee!). For me, the biggest difference was how alive Melbourne felt compared to Sydney (aka restaurants are actually open past 9PM, gasp!). That sounds wrong and I’m not sure how to better encapsulate my feels – but essentially, Melbourne felt like a city (vibrant, alive, and raring to go 24/7), while Sydney somewhat felt like a vacation to the countryside (where folks wake and rest with the sun). Both certainly have their own merits and charm, and I wouldn’t be able to choose between the two either – so please do check both of them out! Now, as most of you know – I’ve got lots of blog entries for Sydney (click link for full list), so I’ve decided to come up with a Melbourne blog as well.
Before we start though, let me drop a tip: Melbourne is also well-known for its crazy weather. Locals joke that you can experience the four seasons in just one day (regardless of what the ACTUAL season is at that time of year). So be prepared, and lug around a cap (for the sun), umbrella (for the rain), and a light jacket (for the cold)!
Without further ado, tada!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
As with every single city I go to, I always try out a free walking tour to dip my feet into the city. This time was no exception, and I opted to join the Melbourne Sights Free Walking Tour first, to understand the history of the city better, and of course, to gather some helpful tips and tricks! As with all walking tours, don’t expect to enter the actual establishments – you’ll really just pass them by as the guide provides a scintillating monologue about the ins and outs of what you’re seeing. If you’re interested, you can take part by waiting by the statue of Sir Redmond Barry in front of the State Library of Victoria (every day, 10:30am and 2:30pm) – and following the folks who’re wearing the green I’m Free Walking Tour shirt!
Fun fact: Melbourne was one of the main recipients of the gold rush, and many of the fine buildings you see today are due to an era in time aptly called “Marvelous Melbourne” – all of which were funded by gold rush money
At first glance, I wasn’t sure what to make of this building / public space. It’s quirky – was pretty much the thought running through my mind. Interestingly, to determine what shape it would take, an architectural design competition was announced with this one winning (pretty sure there’s a deeper meaning to the design, but to this day, it eludes me!) It grows on you though – right before I left Melbourne, I dropped by the Federation Square again, and felt slightly bittersweet
Another reason to check this space out – lots of events occur here throughout the week, e.g. food parks, mini-concerts
Only in Melbourne is graffiti considered art, not vandalism – and where you actually get a permit from the government to take part in these graffiti lanes! I checked out a couple while at Melbourne (all for the love of IG photos ;)), and I’d personally recommend Hosier Lane (where you’ll see the most colored graffiti per square foot) and AC/DC Lane connected to Duckboard place (where you’ll see really thoughtful art pieces). Do note thought that the graffiti on the walls change on a regular basis, so don’t expect to see the same when you go – but isn’t that part of its appeal? Constant reinvention indeed!
Fun fact: Hosier Lane is so named because underwear (aka hosiers) used to be sold in this lane, while AC/DC Lane is named after the famous Australian rock band of the same name
Another area that you should definitely check out is Degraves Street – which I feel is the best place to really understand what makes Melbourne Melbourne – bask in the sun, sip some coffee, laugh with friends, all while you listen to amazingly talented buskers
Tip: Check out Organic Food and Wine Deli while there!
I felt supremely pretentious (bordering sacrilege) when I entered the State Library for the express purpose of taking an Instagram shot. I promise I’ll spend actual time in the library next time – but in this instance, I scurried up to the top floor to get this gorgeous shot!
Hmmm, this market is EXTREMELY famous. I was also SUPREMELY unimpressed by it. The market is huge, with everything and anything under the sun – plus a really good selection of food market and stalls. Still, I think I’ve become quite inured to markets at this point, which may have contributed to my enui
A war memorial meant to honor all Australians who served in the wars – you can opt to check it out at sunset, where you’ll be able to snap a beautiful yet austere shot of the sun rising yet again (symbolic eh?), or during operating hours, so you can learn more about the struggles and heroics of those who fought to ensure our freedom
Great Ocean Road
This is THE thing to do in Melbourne… this is also THE thing I did not do while there! I know, lame! But I only had 1.5 days in Melbourne and I didn’t want to rush this particular experience. Ohwell, incentive to go back – not that I needed the incentive… Having said that, my friend DID check out the Great Ocean Road and she had a fantastic time (see her photos below) – if you want to see more of her work, check out her Instagram: Camille Goes Places
Brighton Beach Houses and St. Kilda
Equally famous, who hasn’t seen the iconic images of colorful Brighton Beach Houses? Start your trip by taking the train from the Flinders Street Station to Brighton Beach Railway Station. Before you board the train though, do take the time to appreciate the train station architecture, as it’s spectacular!
Once you arrive at Brighton Beach Railway Station, stroll slowly across the town (roughly 500 meters), then voila, colorful beach houses galore! Alas, it’s usually surrounded by other tourists such as yourself, so you’ll have to be patient if you want to get nice shots
Once done, why not do the coastal walk from Brighton Beach to St. Kilda? While it can’t compare to the Sydney coastal walks (see link for some of my fave Sydney walks), I have to admit, the beautiful scenery of the bay, the city skyline in the distance, and the grandiose mansions you pass along the way all serve to enhance the 2-3 hour walk. Personally, I’d suggest you do the walk around mid-to-late afternoon, that way, you can enjoy the sunset by St. Kilda pier!
I arrived at St. Kilda a bit early though, so before heading to the pier, I decided to check out Luna Park Melbourne (Interestingly, it’s actually not very similar to Luna Park Sydney – so if you’ve got kids, feel free to check out both as they’ll come out with vastly different experiences methinks)
Lastly, walk along the St. Kilda pier to enjoy the beautiful sunset, then head to Breakwater (which is at the end of the pier) to await the penguins as they come home after a long day outside!
Ohlala, the food scene in Melbourne is incredible (perhaps even better than Sydney!!!) So without further ado, let’s go!
Location: 180 Flinders Lane
Supernormal offers an eclectic mix of Asian inspired dishes and drinks, all with a story to tell – and boy are the servers happy to share! I absolutely enjoyed my meal here, and it served as the perfect welcome to the city!
Food of the day: Mushroom, yuzokosho & silken tofu; Prawn and chicken dumpling; New England lobster roll
Location: 135 Flinders Lane
Who knew you could make meatballs interesting? Check this place out, and find out just how interesting meatballs can be 😉
Food of the day: Game of Thrones themed meatballs (wild boar feed and pork balls on winter mash, in veal jus + lamb rib on top)
Location: Level 1, 79 Bourke Street
Touted for its amazing American-style BBQ, I didn’t really get how the food was American-style – certainly didn’t taste like the American BBQ I’m used to during my trips to the States. Regardless, Fancy Hanks is a must-try, as the meats here are just so ridiculously good!
Food of the day: Maple Glazed Pork Belly
Location: Mid City Arcade, Shop 7; 200 Bourke Street
Tucked away in an alley arcade in Chinatown is this hidden gem. Brought here by my dumpling cravings (I know I know, why dumplings in Melbourne??), the Shandong style mackerel dumplings you can enjoy here are different from what I’m used to but oh so delicious! Note that the restaurant serves traditional recipes from the fishing town of Yantai on the Chinese Shandong Peninsula (it never fails to amaze me how big China is…)
Food of the day: Shandong style mackerel dumplings (fresh mackerel fillet mixed by hand with coriander, ginger and chives into a mousse-textured filling, wrapped in homemade dumpling skin)